Source: http://www.hraic.org/hadith/ibn_ishaq.html, retrieved on Jul 27, 2004
This "translation" is somewhat loose, at points it merely summarizes the main gist of Ibn Hisham's narrative, but it gives a general sense of the traditional account. AT
THE EARLY LIFE OF THE APOSTLE OF ALLAH
It is recorded that when the mother of the apostle of Allah became pregnant with him she had a vision, and a voice spoke to her, saying, “Thou art pregnant with the prince of this nation. When he is born on this earth, thou must say, “I place him under the protection of the only One, from the wickedness of every envious person.” And thou must name him Muhammad.” While she was carrying the child in her womb she saw a light issue from her which illuminated even the castles of Busra in Syria. And Abdullah b. Abdul Muttalib, the father of the apostle, died while the child was yet unborn. The apostle of Allah was born on a Monday, on the thirteenth (lay of the month of Rabi in the year of the Elephant [c 570]*
At the time of the apostle's birth a Jew standing on the flat
roof of a house in Medina called forth the Jewish people and when they
assembled around him, saying, “Woe to you. What is the
matter?” he told them “This night the star has risen,
under which the apostle is born.”
When his mother was delivered of the apostle of Allah she sent the following
message to his grandfather: “An infant is born to you; come and see him.”
He came and she informed him of what she had seen and heard during
her pregnancy and the name she had been ordered to give the child. It is said
that his grandfather took the boy into the Kaba [place of worship] and prayed
to Allah and thanked Him for His gift; then he brought him again to his mother.
She searched, but could not find him again, and she went his grandfather, Abdul Muttalib, and said, “I have arrived this night with Muhammad, but while I was in the upper part of the city he strayed from me, and I know not where he is.” The grandfather of Muhammad stood up near the Kaba and prayed to Allah to restore the boy, and it is believed that he was found by two men of his own tribe who brought him to Abdul Muttalib with the words, “Here is your son. We found him in the upper of Mecca.” Then his grandfather took him and, making him ride on his back, walked round the Kaba, recommending him to Allah and praying for him. After that he sent him to his mother, Amina.
The apostle of Allah and his mother and his grandfather were under the protection
and keeping of Allah, and the boy grew a prosperous plant on account of the grace
for which He had predestined him. When the apostle had attained his sixth year
his mother Amina died in the place called Abwa, between Mecca and
Medina, when she was returning to Mecca with him from a visit to his uncles. The
apostle of Allah remained with his grandfather, Abdul Muttalib. It was usual
to place a bed for Abdul Muttalib in the shade of the Kaba, around which his sons
sat until he arrived; none of his sons ventured to sit on the bed, from
respect towards him. Once the apostle of Allah, who was a plump boy, came and
sat on it, and they pushed him away.
After the death of his grandfather, the apostle of Allah lived with his uncle Abu Talib, to whose care Abdul Muttalib is believed to have entrusted him because Abu Talib and the father of the apostle were brothers by the same father and mother. A soothsayer came once to Mecca to prophesy to the Quraysh and they brought their sons to him to hear his prophecies. Abu Talib visited this man, who looked at the apostle of Allah, but was then diverted from him. When the soothsayer was again at leisure, he asked for the boy and wanted to see him; but when Abu Talib perceived the man's anxiety he took his nephew away. The soothsayer exclaimed, “Woe to you! Bring back the boy whom I have just seen; for, by Allah, he will have high dignity.” But Abu Talib would not return.
On another occasion Abu Talib went with a caravan on a trading journey to Syria. When he was about to depart the apostle of Allah clung to him, and it is believed that Abu Talib was so touched by this that he exclaimed, “By Allah! I shall take him with me, and we shall never be separated from each other.” Accordingly he took the boy with him. Now, at Busra, in Syria, there was a monk named Bahira who was of the Christian faith. He had always lived in the same hermitage, which possessed a book for the instruction of the monks which was passed down and was always kept by the oldest among them. When the caravan encamped in the vicinity of Bahira”s hermitage and they had previously often passed by without his speaking or presenting himself to them he prepared a great deal of food for them, reputedly because of something he had seen whilst in his cell. It was said that, from his hermitage, he had seen the apostle of Allah in the caravan, and that as the caravan approached a cloud hung over the apostle of Allah. When the caravan arrived the people halted under a tree near the cell of the hermit, and he saw the cloud overshadow the tree, and the branches bent themselves over the apostle of Allah so protect him.
When Bahira saw this he came down from his cell and ordered food to be prepared. When it was ready he sent the following message to the people of the caravan, “I have made a dinner for you, o ye Quraysh people. I should like you all to come, the small and the big, the bondmen and the free! One man among them replied, “By Allah, Bahira! There is something the matter with you today, because you have not acted thus with us before, though we passed often near you! What is the matter with you now? Bahira replied, “You have spoken the truth. But you are guests and I should like to honor you, and give a dinner to all of you.” Accordingly they all assembled, but the apostle of Allah remained under the tree, because of his extreme youth, with the baggage of the people. When Bahira looked around and missed him, he said, “O, ye Quraysh people! Leave no one of you behind, deprived of my food.” They replied, “No one who ought to come has remained behind, except a boy, and he is the youngest of the people and therefore has been left with our baggage.” Bahira said, “Do not treat him in this way, but call him to dine with you,” and one of the Quraysh exclaimed, “I swear by al-.Lat and by al Uzza that we are at fault for excluding the son of Abdullah from partaking with us of this dinner!” Then he went to him, brought him in his arms, and seated him among the people. When Bahira saw him he scrutinized him closely and examined him to find the signs lie sought. When the people had finished eating and dispersed Bahira addressed the apostle of Allah as follows, “I adjure you by al Lat at Uzza; answer the questions I shall ask.” (Bahira used these words because he had heard the Quraysh swearing by these two idols.) It is said that the apostle of Allah replied, “Do not ask me by a] Lat and by al Uzza; for, by Allah, I have never hated anything more intensely than these two.” Bahira continued, I adjure you by Allah to answer what I shall ask”, and the apostle of Allah said, “Ask me what thou wilt.”
Accordingly he put to him various questions about his state during sleep, and his condition and circumstances, to which the apostle of Allah gave replies which agreed with what Bahira expected of him. Then Bahira looked on his back and discovered the seal of prophecy between his shoulders. After he had examined the boy, Bahira went to Abu Talib and asked, “What is this boy to you?” He replied, “My son! Bahira rejoined, “He is not your son, nor is there any need for this boy to have a father living.” Abu Talib said, “He is the son of my brother”, and Bahira asked, “What has become of his father?” When Abu Talib replied, “He died whilst the boy's mother was pregnant with him”, Bahira said, “You have spoken the truth. Return with your nephew to his country, and guard him from the Jews; for, by Allah, if they see him and know about him what I know, they will try to injure him, because something very great will happen to this nephew of yours. Therefore make haste to return with him to his country.”
Accordingly his uncle departed quickly with the apostle of Allah and took him to Mecca as soon as he had finished his trading in Syria. According to the legend current among the people, three Christians or Jews named Zurayr, Tammam, and Daris, had the same information about the apostle of Allah as Bahira had. When they saw the boy during this same journey with his uncle Abu Talib, and contemplated doing him some harm, Bahira warned them against it and reminded them of God and of the description they would find in the scriptures; he said, too, that even if they persisted in their intention they could not carry it out. At last they understood and believed what he said, and they departed.
The apostle of Allah grew Allah protecting, keeping and guarding him from the abominations of idolatry, having predestined him to become His apostle and the recipient of His grace till he became the most excellent man of his people, the most agreeable in behavior, the most noble in descent, the finest in neighborly feeling, the greatest in meekness, and the most truthful in utterance; the greatest in fidelity, the furthest from wickedness and from acts which pollute; so exalted and noble that he was called among his people “the faithful”, because of the good qualities Allah had bestowed upon him. The apostle of Allah later told how Allah had preserved him in his childhood and state of innocence, saying, “I was among Quraysh boys and we were carrying stones for some play. We were all naked, and every boy had placed his ezar [loincloth] around his neck to carry stones in it, and I had done the same as .
When I was thus moving about, some Being whom I did see struck me a fearful blow and exclaimed, “Bind on thy ezar “; accordingly I girded myself therewith, and thus carried the stones on my neck, I being the only one among my companions who wore his ezar.” The War of the Wicked broke out when the apostle of Allah was twenty years old, and it was called Wicked because during the sacred month two tribes, the Kinana and the Qays Aylan, considered it right to do what was not right at such a time. The Quraysh, after the sacred month, went to the aid of their allies, the Kinana. The apostle of Allah was taken out by his uncles during one battle to witness the fight, and he afterwards said, “I was arrowing to my uncles, that is to say, I brought them the arrows, which the enemies had shot against them.”
When the apostle of Allah was twenty five years old he married Khadija, a rich and noble merchant woman who engaged men to sell her merchandise and allowed them part of the profits; the Quraysh was a trading tribe. She had heard of the veracity, honesty, and excellence of the apostle of Allah, and sent for him to propose that he take some of her goods to Syria as a trader. She promised to allow him a larger profit than other merchants, to send with him her male slave, Maysara.
The apostle of the offer and departed with the goods and the slave. On his arrival in Syria the apostle of Allah alighted in the shade of a tree near the hermitage of a monk, who approached Maysara and asked, “Who is this man under the tree?” Maysara replied, “This man is one of the Quraysh from the sacred city.”
And the monk said, “Under this tree no one ever alighted except a prophet.” Then the apostle of Allah sold the goods he had, purchased others and returned with Maysara to Mecca. It is said that Maysara saw, at noon during this return journey when the heat was strong, two angels shading the apostle of Allah from the sun while he rode on his camel. When he arrived at Mecca and came to Khadija with his goods, she sold them and found their value doubled or almost so. Maysara, too, informed her of what the monk had said, and what he had seen of the two angels shading the apostle; and Khadija who was an intelligent, noble and good woman, predestined to great favor by Allah sent for the apostle of Allah and spoke the following words:
'O son of my uncle! I have taken a liking to you on account of our relationship, your respectability among the people, your honesty, character and veracity.' Then she offered herself to him for a wife. She was at that time the most honored woman among the Quraysh because of her lineage, the highest in nobility, and the richest in property; for this everybody envied her.
When she had made this proposal to the apostle of Allah he mentioned it to his uncles, and his uncle, Hamza, went with him to her father, whom he asked for her; and he married her. The apostle of Allah gave her twenty young camels for a dowry. She was the first wife he married, and he never married another until she died. Khadija bore to the apostle of Allah all his children except Ibrahim. She gave birth to al Qasim, and to al Tayyib, to al-Tahir, to Ruqayya, to Zaynab, to Umm Kulthum and to Fatima. Al Qasim, al Tayyib and al Tahir died during 'ignorance' [before the promulgation of Islam], but all the daughters of the apostle of Allah lived to see the establishment of Islam, made profession of it, and emigrated with him to Medina.
Khadija told her cousin, Waraqa, who was a Christian well versed in sacred and profane literature, what Maysara had related of the conversation of the monk and what he had seen of the two angels shading the apostle of Allah, and Waraqa replied, 'If this be true, o Khadija, then Muhammad is the prophet of his people. I know that a prophet is expected at this time.' Waraqa had been one of the men of the Quraysh known as the 'four inquirers', who had gone in search of the true religion of Abraham. This happened in the following manner: Some decades earlier the Quraysh had begun to establish the of 'The Hums', which imposed acceptance of Quraysh priority over the other Arab tribes. 'We are the sons of Abraham, men of honor, governors of the house of Allah, inhabitants of Mecca. No Arab has such virtue as we, nor such dignity as we. No man of the Quraysh should honor territory which is secular in the way he honors that which is sacred. For if he does so the Arabs will slight his honor, and will say of the Quraysh, "They have honored that which is profane [outside the sacred limits] in the same way as that which is sacred [within .the sanctuary of the holy territory of Mecca]." '
Accordingly the Quraysh abandoned certain holy ordinances of pilgrimage enjoined by the religion of Abraham, saying: 'We are the inhabitants of the sacred city of Mecca and it is not proper for us to leave it and honor another place as we honor Mecca. We are the Hums, the people of the sacred place.' But they imposed the ordinances on all other Arabs born either without or within the limits of Mecca. They next invented new observances for themselves. They announced that it was not proper for the Hums to prepare eqth [milk be dried and reduced to powder], to melt fat, or to enter a camel hair tent whilst they were in a state of purity and sanctity [performing the ceremonies of the pilgrimage]. They added even to these rules, saying that persons who had come from outside the sacred city ought not to eat food they had brought in with them, whether they came as pilgrims or visitors.
The pilgrims” first circuit of the Kaba should be made in dress provided by the Hums, or, if such could not be procured, in no dress at all; but rich men or women unwilling to do either could walk around the temple in the garments in which they had arrived, provided they afterwards threw them away and neither touched them any more nor allowed anyone else to touch them. The Arabs were induced to agree to this and made the circuit of the Kaba, the men naked, and the women clad only in an open cassock. One day, when the Quraysh held a festival near one of the stone idols which they honored, for which they slaughtered sacrifices, near which they assiduously prayed, and around which they walked in procession, four men (one of whom was Waraqa) separated from the rest, saying one to another: 'Will we make a covenant of mutual friendship and protection?'
And each said, 'Indeed we will! Our people have no religion! They have lost the religion of their father Abraham! What worth has a stone that it should be walked around, which can neither hear nor see anything, neither hurt nor profit anyone? O ye Quraysh, seek a religion for yourself, for, by Allah, you have none whatever.' And the four dispersed to various countries to seek the religion of Abraham. Waraqa decided on Christianity and followed the books of its teachers until he had obtained knowledge of the scripture. Ubaydullah remained in doubt until, after the revelation, he made profession of Islam and went to Abyssinia; but when he arrived there he became a Christian and died thus, after having renounced Islam. The third, Uthman, went to Byzantium, where he became a Christian and attained high office. The fourth man, Zayd, became neither Jew nor Christian, although he renounced the religion of the Quraysh and abandoned idols, blood, and sacrifices slain for idols, and condemned the burying alive of female infants. He said, 'I worship the Lord of Abraham', and, when he was a very old man, was to be seen leaning with his back against the Kaba, saying, 'O ye Quraysh people! I swear by Him in whose hand the life of Zayd is, there is not one among you of the religion of Abraham, except myself. O Allah ! If I knew which way is most pleasing to Thee, I would worship Thee according to it, but I do not know it.' He set forth in search of the religion of Abraham and made inquiries from monks and Jewish priests. He passed through Mesopotamia, and then wandered through the whole of Syria until he found a monk in whom the knowledge of Christianity was concentrated. Him he asked about the orthodox religion of Abraham, and the monk replied, 'You are in search of a religion to which no one can guide you at present; but the time is at hand when a prophet will arise in your country; he will be sent with the religion of Abraham. Adopt it, for he comes now, and this is the time.' Shortly after this Zayd departed for Mecca, but he was attacked and died by the way. When the apostle of Allah was thirty five years old some evil men stole the treasure which was kept in a well inside the Kaba. The treasure was found again in the possession of a manumitted slave, and the Quraysh cut off his hands, although they believed others had stolen the treasure and merely left it with the slave.
The Quraysh now felt it necessary to rebuild the Kaba and roof it in, but they were afraid to demolish it, because there was a serpent which always came up to the wall to warm itself. The people feared it because when anyone approached it raised itself, hissed and opened its mouth. One day, however, whilst it was warming itself as usual in the sun on the wall, Allah sent a bird which snatched it up and flew off with it. Thereon the Quraysh said: 'Allah must approve of our intention. We have a workman, we. possess wood. and Allah has delivered us from the serpent.” They were now firmly determined to pull down the Kaba and build it up again, and Abu Wahb rose and took a stone from the Kaba. But the stone leapt from his hand and returned to its place, and he exclaimed: 'O ye Quraysh people! In the building of the Kaba, do not employ any of your goods unless they be of righteous origin; do not use in it the profit of iniquity, nor of usurious sale, nor of injustice towards any man.' The Quraysh had decided that different parts of the Kaba should be demolished by different sections of the community, but the people were still afraid to destroy the edifice. Then al-Walid said: 'I shall make a beginning for you', and he took up a pickaxe, stood up before the Kaba and declared: 'O Allah! Let us not be afraid! We want only what is good”.
Then he began to pull down the wall between the two buttresses. But the people waited that night, saying: 'We shall see; and if anything happens to al Walid, we shall not demolish it, but leave it as it was; but if nothing befalls him, Allah is pleased with what we have done demolition.' The next morning al Walid continued his work of demolition, and the people aided him till they reached the foundations. In the buttress they found an inscription in Syriac, and knew not what it meant until a Jew read it for them. It was as follows: 'I am Allah, the lord of Mecca! I created it when I created the heavens and the earth, when I fashioned the sun and the moon, and I have appointed over it seven angels; Mecca will not perish until its two hills perish! It will be blessed to its inhabitants in water and milk!” When they reached the foundations they found them to be green boulders adhering together like a single stone, and when a man of the Quraysh inserted a lever to separate the boulders, the whole of Mecca began to shake; so the people touched the foundation no more.
The groups of Quraysh now collected stones for the rebuilding, each group gathering separately, and they built until they reached the spot for the ruku [the sacred black stone]. Then all the people quarreled, because each group wished the honor of lifting the stone into place; so bitter were the quarrels that the groups made alliances and prepared to fight. One group produced a dish filled with blood and entered into a covenant unto death with another group by dipping their hands into the dish they were therefore called blood lickers. The situation remained thus for four or five nights; then the Quraysh assembled in the mosque to consult and reach a decision, and the oldest man among them said at last, 'Why not let he who next enters through the door of this mosque be the arbiter in this quarrel, and let him decide it?' They agreed, and the first man who entered was the apostle of Allah. And they said, 'This is the faithful one! We agree that he shall judge.' When he came near they told him of the problem and he said, 'Bring me a cloak'. When they had brought one, he placed the ruku [black stone] in it with his own hands, saying, 'Let every group take hold of a part of the cloak.' Then all of them lifted it together, and when they reached the spot, the apostle placed it in position with his own hands, and the building was continued over it. Thus matters stood when Allah sent for Muhammad, His prophet, and revealed to him His religion and the proper usages of the pilgrimage. 'Therefore go [ye Quraysh] in procession as the people [the other Arabs] go in procession, and ask pardon from Allah; because Allah is forgiving and merciful.' As for the prohibitions invented by the Quraysh concerning cooking, dress, the circuit of the Kaba, and food brought from beyond the sacred territory, Allah revealed the following: 'O children of Adam! Wear decent apparel at every place of worship, and eat, and drink but be not prodigal, for He loveth not prodigals. Say, who has forbidden the decent apparel of Allah which He has brought forth for His servants, and the good things of His providing? Say, these benefits, especially on the day of resurrection shall be for those who were believers during their present life”. Thus, when Allah established Islam by sending his apostle, he set aside the observances the Quraysh had invented for their own people.
As the time approached for the revelation of the apostle, Jewish priests and Christian monks discussed prophecies concerning the event contained in their sacred books and inherited from their own prophets. One day, according to an Arab tribesman, 'I was lying in the courtyard of our family house and a Jew who conducted business with us told us of the day of judgement, the resurrection, the reckoning, of paradise and of hell. We who were idolaters had no knowledge of the resurrection, and said, "Woe be unto you! Do you think it possible that men will be raised up after death in a place where there is a paradise and a hell, and in which they will be requited according to their acts?" And he assured us, by Him who is sworn by, that he would prefer to be cast into the greatest oven in this world, scorching though it might be and sealed tight, rather than face the torments of hell in the next. My kinsmen said, "What will be the sign?" and he replied, "A prophet will arise in the direction of this country", and pointed towards Mecca and Yemen. They asked, "When will this happen?" and, looking at me, the youngest of the people, he said, "When this boy's life attains maturity he will see him." And by Allah, not a day nor a night passed after that until the time when sent his apostle to live among us during which we did not expect his arrival.
But when it came, that refractory and envious Jew refused to become a believer, even after the apostle had promulgated Islam, and we said, "Woe be to you! Did you not yourself inform us about the prophet?" And he replied, "Indeed! But not about this one!" ' There was also a Syrian Jew who paid a visit to the Banu Quraysa,a Jewish tribe, several years before the establishment of Islam and settled down among them; and many later said had never seen a man who did not recite five prayers daily [i.e. was not a Muslim] of a better character than he. He remained with them, and when they suffered from drought they said to him, 'Come, and procure us water!'
After being paid with dates and barley, he went out into the fields and prayed to Allah for rain and did not move until clouds came and drenched him. This he did not once, twice or thrice, but many times. As his death approached, he said, 'Why do you think I came away from the land of abundance to the land of misfortune and famine? I have come to this country to await the arrival of a prophet, whose time is near at hand; and it is to this country that he will flee. I hoped he would be sent during my lifetime, that I might follow him. His time is near at hand. Do not allow others to forestall you in believing in his mission; for he will be sent to shed the blood, and to capture the children and women, of those who oppose him; but let not this hinder you from following him.' Years later, when the apostle of Allah besieged the Banu Qurayza, the friends of the dead Jew said, 'By Allah! This is the prophet foretold to us.
This is he according to his description! They accordingly came down from their fort, made profession of Islam, and thus preserved their lives, their property and families. Like the Jews and Christians, the Arab soothsayers also spoke coming of the coming of an apostle, but their people paid no heed until Allah actually sent him, when, the prophecies made by the soothsayers having been fulfilled, the people became aware of their significance. Whereas the Jews and Christians culled their prophecies from scripture, the Arab soothsayers received their foreknowledge of most events from the djinns, spirits of the air who stole information by listening close to heaven. But when the coming of the apostle was close at hand meteors from heaven were hurled at all the djinns and they were driven away from the places where they used to sit and listen; and they realized that this was by the command of Allah.
The first Arabs to be struck with fear at the sight of the shooting stars for that was how the meteors thrown at the djinns appeared on earth went to the wisest man of their tribe and said, 'Have you seen what happened in the sky and the falling of some of the stars?' He replied, 'If the stars thrown down were those which serve as signs and guides by land and sea, those by which the seasons of summer and winter are defined and by which the various affairs of mankind are regulated, then by Allah the world has come to an end with all the people thereof; but if those stars remain in their places and it is others which have been hurled down, then Allah has a different intention and does not mean to destroy creation.' Afterwards, the apostle of Allah asked some men of Medina what had been said there about the falling stars and was told: 'We said, "A king has died or has begun to reign; a child has been born, or has died." ' The apostle of Allah replied: 'It was not so. When Allah reaches any decision concerning His people He is heard by the bearers of His throne, who praise Him; and this praise is taken up by the angels below them, and by others still further below; and the praise continues to descend until it reaches the sky of this world, where other angels also praise. Then these ask each other why they praise, and the question ascends gradually till it reaches the bearers of the throne.
They then, tell of the decree of Allah concerning His people, and the news
travels down by degrees until it reaches the heaven of this world,
where the angels discuss it. But the evil djinns, who used to listen to such discussions
by stealth, sometimes misheard, and what they retailed to soothsayers
on earth was sometimes true and sometimes false. The soothsayers also conversed
about these matters, some giving true and some false accounts. So, when the coming
of the apostle was being discussed by the angels, Allah foiled the evil djinns
by hurling meteors, and from that time onwards an end was made to soothsayers.'
For some time the mind of Muhammad had been in a state of ferment. The religious
aspect, however, was not without political overtones, as can be seen in the
parts of the Koran dating From this period: and an imperfect understanding
of Christianity and Judaism colored the beginnings (and, indeed, the later development
of the new religion in his mind. At the start of his mission, Muhammad saw himself
as the latest in the line of prophets which began with Moses and ended with Jesus
of Nazareth. When Muhammad was forty years old Allah sent him as a
prophet of mercy to the people of the visible and of the invisible worlds, and
to all mankind.
With every prophet whom Allah had sent before the time of Muhammad, He had made a covenant, binding each of them to the coming of Muhammad, to declare him a true apostle, to aid him against every opponent, and to testify to every man who believed in the truth of their own prophetic missions that the mission of Muhammad was still to come. They complied, according to His command, and spread the covenant of Allah to all who believed in them, so that many men who believed in the Old or the New Testament believed also in the truth of this covenant. According to his wife, the first prophetic sign shown by the apostle of Allah after Allah determined to honor him and, through him, to show mercy to His servants took the form of true visions. That is to say, the apostle of Allah never had a vision in his sleep; instead, it came like the break of day. She also said that Allah made him love solitude, so that he loved nothing more than to be alone. When Allah had determined on the coming of the apostle of Allah, Muhammad went out on some business at such a distance that he left human habitation behind and came to deep valleys. He did not pass by a stone or a tree but it said 'Salutation to thee, o apostle of Allah!”
The apostle turned to his right, to his left, and looked behind, but saw nothing except trees and stones. Thus he remained for some time looking and listening, till Gabriel came to him with that revelation which the grace of Allah was to bestow upon him when he was at Hira during the month of Ramadan. Every year the apostle of Allah spent a month praying at Hira and fed the poor who came to him; and when he returned to Mecca he walked round the Kaba seven or more times, as it pleased Allah, before entering his own house. In the month of Ramadan, in the year when Allah designed to bestow grace upon him, the apostle of Allah went to Hira as usual, and his family accompanied him. In the night the angel Gabriel came with the command of Allah. The apostle of Allah later said, 'He came while I was asleep, with a cloth of brocade whereon there was writing, and he said, "Read." I replied, "I cannot read it." Then he pressed the cloth on me till I thought I was dying; he released his hold and said, "Read." I replied, "I cannot read it." And he pressed me again with it, till I thought I was dying. Then he loosed his hold of me and said, "Read." I replied, "I cannot read it." Once more he pressed me and said, "Read." Then I asked, "What shall I read?" And I said this because I feared he would press me again. Then he said, "Read in the name of the Lord thy creator; who created man from a drop of blood. Read, thy Lord is the most bountiful, who taught by means of the pen, taught man what he knew not." Accordingly I read these words, and he had finished his task and departed from me. I awoke from my sleep, and felt as if words had been graven on my heart.' Afterwards I went out, and when I was on the centre of the mountain, I heard a voice from heaven, saying, "O Muhammad! Thou art the prophet of Allah, and I am Gabriel." I raised my head to look at the sky, and lo! I beheld Gabriel in the shape of a man with extended wings, standing in the firmament, with his feet touching the ground.
And he said again, "O Muhammad! Thou art the apostle of Allah, and I am Gabriel." I continued to gaze at him, neither advancing nor retreating. Then I turned my face away from him to other parts of the sky, but in whatever direction I looked I saw him in the same form. I remained thus neither advancing nor retreating, and Khadija sent messengers to search for me.
They went as far as the highest part of Mecca and again returned to her, while I remained standing on the same spot, until the angel departed from me and I returned to my family. When I came to Khadija I narrated to her what I had seen, and she said, "Be of good cheer and comfort thyself ! I swear by him whose hand the life of Khadija is, that I hope thou wilt be the prophet of this nation!" Then she rose, collected her garments around her and departed to Waraqa.' She described to him what the apostle of Allah had seen and heard, and Waraqa exclaimed, 'Holy! Holy! I swear to Him in whose hands the life of Waraqa is that the law of Moses has been bestowed on him and he is the prophet of this nation! Tell him to stand firm.' Khadija then returned to the apostle of Allah and informed him of what Waraqa had said. When the apostle of Allah ended his sojourn at Hira he departed to Mecca and went first round the Kaba as was his habit. And he was met by Waraqa, who said, 'Thou wilt be accused of falsehood, thou wilt be persecuted, exiled, and attacked.' Then Waraqa bent his head towards the apostle and kissed him on the crown of the head, and the apostle of Allah departed to his house.
But the revelations were not continued and the apostle became much downcast, until Gabriel came to him with a message from Allah saying that He had not abandoned Muhammad; 'By brightness, and by the night when it is dark, thy Lord has not forsaken nor hated thee, and the next life will be better for thee than the first. The Lord will give thee victory in this world and reward in the next. Did He not find thee an orphan and procure thee shelter? He found thee erring and guided thee; He found thee needy and enriched thee.' The message to Muhammad continued: 'Declare the goodness of thy Lord; declare what has come to thee from Allah, and declare His bounty and grace in thy mission; mention it, record it, and pray for manifestations of it.' Accordingly the apostle of Allah began, at first in secret to those of his family whom he trusted, to promulgate the gospel bestowed by Allah on him, and on mankind through his agency. Prayer was made an ordinance to Muhammad, and accordingly he prayed.
The apostle of Allah was first commanded to make two prayer flexions [prostrations] for every prayer, but later Allah commanded four prayer flexions for those who were at home, although He confirmed the first ordinance of two prayer flexions for those who were on a journey. When prayer was made obligatory to the apostle of Allah, Gabriel came to him when he was in the highest part of Mecca, and spurred his heel into the ground towards the valley; a spring gushed forth and Gabriel performed religious ablutions. The apostle of Allah observed how purification for prayers was to be made, and washed himself likewise. Then Gabriel rose and prayed, and the apostle of Allah did so after him, and then Gabriel departed. When the apostle of Allah came to Khadija he performed the religious ablution in her presence to show her how purity was attained, just as Gabriel had done. And she, too, washed as she had been shown. Then the apostle prayed as Gabriel had prayed, and Khadija prayed after him.
Then Gabriel came to him and held noon prayers when the sun passed the zenith; and prayed the afternoon prayers with him when his shadow was the same length as his own body. Then he prayed the sunset prayers when the sun disappeared, and the last evening prayer when the twilight disappeared. Next day he held morning prayers with the apostle at dawn; then the midday prayers when the shadow was one with him; and the afternoon prayers when it was twice as long as he; then the sunset orisons when the sun disappeared, as on the preceding day. Then he prayed with him the last evening prayers when the first third of the night had elapsed, and lastly the morning prayers, when the morning dawned but the sun had not yet risen. Then he said, 'O Muhammad! The time of prayer is between thy prayers of yesterday and today.' The first man to believe in the apostle of Allah, to pray with him t his prophetic mission, was Ali, who at that time was ten years old. Even before Islam, Allah had favoured him by allowing him to live under the protection of the apostle of Allah. The Quraysh had been visited by severe famine, and, as Abu Talib had a numerous family, the apostle of Allah went to another uncle, al Abbas who was among the wealthiest of the tribe and said, 'Your brother Abu Talib has a large family and you must be aware from what scarcity the people are suffering. Come therefore with me, and we shall ease him of his burden. I shall take one of his sons, and do you take another under your care? Al-Abbas agreed, and they went to Abu Talib and said, “We wish to alleviate your troubles until the people are released from their distress.' Accordingly, the apostle of Allah took Ali and pressed him to his heart, and al Abbas took Jafar. Ali remained with the apostle of Allah and followed him, believed in him, and accepted the truth of his doctrines.
When the time of prayer was at hand, the apostle of Allah habitually went out to the valleys of Mecca, and took Ali with him, unknown to his father Abu Talib or to his people; and they prayed together and returned in the evening. This continued for some time, until one day Abu Talib happened to discover them at prayer and asked the apostle of Allah, 'What religion is this I see you practicing?' 'This is the religion of Allah, and of His angels, of , and of our father Abraham. Allah has sent me with this religion, as an apostle to His servants; and you, my uncle, are the most worthy on whom I could bestow advice and invitation to guidance; you are the most worthy to comply in it and to aid me therein.' But Abu Talib said, 'I cannot abandon the religion of my forefathers and what they believed in; but no harm shall be done to you as long as I live.' It is also said that he asked Ali, 'What religion is this thou believest in?' and Ali replied, 'I believe in the apostle of Allah, and that his revelation is true. I pray with him, and I follow him.' His father said, 'He has called thee only to what is good; therefore obey him.'
Next, Zayd, the manumitted slave of the apostle of Allah, made his profession of Islam, being the second man who did so. The youth Zayd had arrived from Syria as a slave, and the nephew of Khadija said to her, 'Select any of these slaves you wish, as a present.' She chose Zayd and took him away, but when the apostle saw him he asked for him. Khadija agreed, and the apostle of Allah gave him his liberty and adopted him as his son. (This was before the apostle had received the revelation.) Meanwhile, the father of Zayd mourned for him and wept for his loss; but at last he found his son with the apostle of Allah. The apostle said to Zayd, 'Remain with me if you wish, or depart with your father if you wish', and Zayd replied, 'I shall abide with you!' Accordingly he never parted from the apostle until Allah bestowed his mission on him. Zayd then professed Islam. Next Abu Bakr, called Assidiq ('The True'), made his profession of Islam, confessing it publicly.
The apostle of Allah later said, 'I have preached Islam to no one who did not hesitate, consider, and contradict, save Abu Bakr, who neither hesitated nor was perplexed.' Abu Bakr invited the people to believe in Allah the most high and glorious, and in His apostle. He was popular with his people, amiable, and compassionate, and was unusually well acquainted with Quraysh genealogy, and with whatever was good or evil therein. He was a merchant, of humane and kindly disposition, so that the people of his tribe sought after his company more than that of any other man, on account of his knowledge, his scrupulous honesty, and his friendly conversation. He now invited to Islam all the people who trusted in him, and associated with him. At his invitation Uthman made profession of Islam, as well as al Zubayr, Abdul Rahman, Sad b. Abu Waqqas, and Talha. Abu Bakr went with them to the apostle of Allah and they made their profession of Islam and prayed.
These eight men preceded all others in Islam; they prayed, they believed in the apostle of Allah, and accepted as true the revelation which had come to him from Allah. Soon several men and women had made their profession of Islam and it was much discussed in Mecca. Then Allah commanded his apostle to make public the revelation and to invite the people to accept it; hitherto, for the three years since his first revelation, it had been kept secret by the apostle. Allah said 'Publish that which thou hast been commanded, and turn away from the idolaters.'
When the apostle began to spread Islam among his people as Allah had commanded him, they did not gainsay him until he began to abuse their idols; but when he had done this, they accused him of seeking power, denied his revelation, and united to injure him. The companions of the apostle of Allah went into the valleys to pray, unknown to the people; and once, whilst Sad and several companions of the apostle were at prayer, they were discovered by idolaters who heaped insults upon them, condemned their deeds, and provoked them to fight. Then Sad struck an idolater with the jawbone of a camel, and wounded him; and this was the first blood shed in Islam. But Abu Talib, uncle of the apostle, defended him. Several nobles of the Quraysh, including Utba and Abu Sufyan, went to Abu Talib and said, 'Your nephew has insulted our gods and condemned our religion. He considers our young men to be fools, and our fathers to have erred. You must either restrain him or allow us free action against him, since your religion is the same as ours, opposed to his.' But the apostle continued to preach the religion of Allah and to seek conversions, and the people hated him.
Again they went to Abu Talib and said, 'You are aged, noble, and highly respected among us, and we have already asked you to prohibit your nephew from offending us. But you have not prohibited him, and, by Allah, we shall not overlook his insults unless you guarantee his future good behavior. Otherwise, we shall fight both him and you.' After this they departed, and Abu Talib was much grieved by the enmity of his tribe; but he could not surrender or desert the apostle of Allah. After this visit, Abu Talib sent for the apostle and said, 'Consider my life and yours, and do not burden me with what I cannot bear.' The apostle of Allah feared from these words that his uncle, being too weak, had determined to desert him and he replied, 'If they were to place the sun in my right and the moon in my left hand, I would not abandon my mission.' Then tears started in his eyes and he wept. But when he turned to depart Abu Talib said, 'Nephew! Go, and speak what you wish. By Allah! I shall never fail you.' And the nobles went once more to Abu Talib and offered him the brilliant youth Umara in exchange for Muhammad, but he replied, 'It is a wicked thing you propose, that you give me your son to feed, and I give you mine to kill! This shall never be.'
Then the Quraysh incited each other to enmity towards the companions of the apostle of Allah, and persecuted them, and endeavoured to lead them astray from their religion. But Allah protected His apostle and Abu Talib, and Abu Talib gathered his friends around him.
When the season of pilgrimage was at hand, the Quraysh assembled to agree on the attitude they should display about the apostle. They asked, 'Shall we call him a soothsayer?' but al Walid, the chief, replied, 'He is not a soothsayer. We have seen soothsayers; he does not murmur and rhyme as they do.' They continued, 'Then we shall say that he is possessed by djinns.' He replied, 'He is not possessed. We have seen lunatics and know them. He does not gasp, nor roll his eyes, nor mutter.' They said, 'Then we shall say that he is a poet. 'Al Walid replied, 'He is not a poet. We know all the poets and their styles. He is not a poet.' They asked, 'Then what shall we say?' Al Walid replied, 'You cannot say any of these things, for it will be known that they are false. The best will be to say that he is a sorcerer, because he has come with words which are sorcery and which separate a man from his father or from his brother, or from his wife, or from his family.' When the season of the pilgrimage arrived, the Quraysh sat by the roadside and allowed no man to pass without warning about Muhammad. And the Arab pilgrims carried away from Mecca news of the apostle of Allah, so that his fame spread over the whole country.
When Islam began to spread in Mecca, the Quraysh imprisoned its believers or sought to turn them away from Islam. The nobles sent for Muhammad in order to justify themselves, and the apostle of Allah hastened to them in the hope that they had conceived a favourable opinion of what he had told them. But they only accused him once more of seeking riches and power. This he denied, and reaffirmed his mission from Allah. Then they said, 'You know that no people are in greater want of land, of and of food than we are. Ask the Lord who has sent you to take away these mountains which confine us and to level out the country, to cause rivers to gush forth like the rivers of Syria, resurrect our ancestors that we may ask them whether what you say is true or false. If they declare you to be truthful and if you do what we have asked, we shall believe you and shall know that Allah has sent you to be an apostle.' He replied, 'I have not been sent to you with this, but I have brought to you from Allah the revelation He has sent. If you reject it, I appeal in this affair to Allah, that He decide between me and you.'
They continued, 'Ask, then, your Lord to send an angel to bear witness to your veracity. Ask Him to give you gardens, and treasures of gold and silver to enrich you; we know you go now to the markets to procure food as we procure it. Then we shall know your rank and station with Allah.' The apostle of Allah said, 'I shall not do this, nor ask for this. I was not sent to you for this; but Allah has sent me as a bearer of glad tidings and a preacher.'
They went on, 'Then cause the heavens to fall upon us, for we shall not believe you unless you do something miraculous.' The apostle of Allah replied, 'This is the choice of Allah! If He wishes He will do it.' Then they said, 'We shall not cease to persecute you until we destroy you or you destroy us. We shall not believe you until you come with Allah and all the angels.' So the apostle of Allah returned home, sad and downcast with disappointment in his people and their estrangement from him. When the apostle had left them, Abu Jahl said, 'I now make a vow to Allah, that I shall wait for him tomorrow with a stone as large as I can carry and when he prostrates himself in prayer, I shall smash his head with it! After that you may either surrender me or defend me.' They replied, 'We shall never surrender you!'
Next morning, Abu Jahl took a stone as he had said, and waited for the apostle of Allah, who arrived and prayed as usual at Mecca with his face towards the Kaba and Syria beyond. Abu Jahl approached him; but suddenly he turned back and fled, his countenance altered, so frightened that his hands could not hold the stone. 'When I approached,' he said, 'a stallion camel appeared before me with a skull, a collar bone, and teeth the like of which I have never seen. It rushed to devour me.'
Later, Utba, who was a prince among the Quraysh, said, 'Shall I speak to Muhammad so that he may cease to trouble us?' They said, 'Yes, go and speak to him.' So Utba went to Muhammad, and said, 'You have disturbed our concord; listen to my proposal and consider it, that you may perchance accept a part thereof. If property be your desire in this affair, we shall collect as much of it as will make you the richest of us; but if dignity be your object, we shall make you our prince so that no affair, will be decided without you; and if you want to be a king, we shall make you our king; but if this be a spirit who visits you and you are unable to repel it, we shall find a physician for you and give him money till he cures you of it.' The apostle of Allah listened and then recited to him a verse from the Koran, and Utba returned to his companions, saying, 'I have heard words the like of which I have never heard. This is neither poetry, nor sorcery, nor soothsaying.
Do not interfere with this man or his vocation but let him alone. The words which I have heard will spread far and wide. If others should kill him, you will be rid of him, but if he conquers the Arabs, then his power will be your power, and his glory your glory, so that you will through him become the happiest of people.' But they thought him bewitched.
After this, the Quraysh sent al Nadr, a bitter enemy of Muhammad, and Uqba to the Jewish priests in Medina with instructions to ask about the apostle, for they said the Jews 'are possessors of the first book [the Pentateuch] and have knowledge about prophets which we have not'. The Jewish priests told them, 'Ask him three questions which we shall give you. If he answers them obey him, for he is a prophet; but if not, then he is a pretender, and you may deal with him as you think proper.” Al-Nadr and Uqba returned to Mecca and told the people what the priests had said, and they said to the apostle, 'Inform us about the young men who passed away in ancient times, because their case is wonderful; tell us also about the traveller who went from the east to the west of the earth, and tell us about the soul and what it is!' The apostle of Allah replied: 'I shall tell you tomorrow.'
Two weeks, however, passed and the apostle received no revelation from Allah and no visit from Gabriel, and the people began to murmur against him. At last Gabriel came and the apostle of Allah said, 'Thou hast remained away from me so long that I became troubled by evil imaginings!' Gabriel 'We descend only by command of thy Lord! To Him belongs the present, the past, and whatever is between them. Nor is thy Lord ever forgetful.' And Gabriel brought a revelation from Allah in the form of the Sura known as The Cave. Part of the revelation contained a warning that 'We will surely reduce whatever is on earth to dust and desolation. To Me you must return, and I shall requite everyone according to his works; do not therefore be distressed or grieved about what thou seest or hearest on earth.'
Then Gabriel told the apostle the answer concerning the young men whose case was wonderful. 'Verily they were young believed in the Lord and We increased our guidance and We fortified their hearts, and they said "Our Lord is the Lord of heaven and earth, we shall invoke no other god him, for that would be to utter sacrilege." And they took refuge in a cave from those who worshipped idols; and thou mightest have seen the sun, when it rose, pass from their cave to the right, and when it went down it left them on the left hand, and they were in the centre thereof.
This is one of the signs of Allah that will satisfy thy questioners. An onlooker would have thought the youths to be awake, though they were sleeping; and their rulers said, "We shall build a place of worship over them. " ' 'And the men dwelt in their cave three hundred years, and nine more. Say, "Allah knows best how long they remained. He possesses the secret of the heavens and of the earth. How well He sees and hears! They have no other master besides Him, and He makes no one His associate in judgment." ' Gabriel continued by warning Muhammad: 'Say not of anything "I shall do this tomorrow", without adding "If Allah willeth it". Namely, never say as thou hast done in this instance "I shall inform you tomorrow", but reserve the will of Allah. Remember thy Lord if thou knowest not an answer, and say "Perhaps my Lord will guide me to the information about which you have asked". Thou knowest not what Allah will decide.
Then Gabriel told the apostle of Dhul Qarnayn [possibly another name for Alexander the Great], the traveller who was gifted like no other man, and to whom the roads were opened so that he travelled to the east and the west, even to a place where the people scarcely understood the sound of the voice, and he built a rampart faced with molten brass. 'They will ask thee also about the spirit. Say "The spirit stems from the command of my Lord, and as to knowledge, ye have yet received but little of it." When the apostle of Allah gave the people these replies, they were convinced of the truth of his position as a prophet, but envy prevented them from following him, and they continued in their unbelief, attempting to mock the apostle because they feared they would be defeated in honest argument.
Whenever the apostle of Allah recited the Koran aloud in his devotions, they refused to listen to him, save some who approached secretly and stayed only as long as they were not observed by the Quraysh. The injunction from Allah, 'Do not utter thy prayers too loud nor too low, but keep a balance between them' was given the apostle because of such men; prayer must not be too loud, or the people would go away; and not too low, lest he who listened by stealth and who might in some measure profit by it, would not be able to hear. On a certain occasion, however, when the companions of the apostle of Allah were assembled, they said, 'The Quraysh have never heard this Koran publicly spoken.
Who is the man who will let them hear it?' Abdullah replied, I will!' but they said, We fear they will injure you. It should be a man whose people can defend him against the tribe.' Abdullah insisted, 'Let me do it. Allah will protect me!' Accordingly, he made his appearenc e next morning at daylight, and spoke: 'In the name of Allah the merciful, the compassionate! The merciful who taught the Koran”.
The Quraysh asked, 'What says that son of a slave-woman? Then they leapt up and belaboured him, but he continued to recite as much of the Koran as Allah willed, and afterwards returned to his companions. 'The enemies of Allah never seemed to me to be more despicable than now,' he said. If you wish, I shall serve them in the same way tomorrow!' But they said, 'Let it suffice! You have caused them to hear what they dislike”.
The followers of Muhammad were often subjected to torture and some gave up their belief through weakness, some because of their great sufferings; but others were protected and strengthened by Allah so that they remained steadfast. Bilal, a slave to one of the Banu Jumah, was of a pure heart and sincere in his profession of Islam. He was dragged out by Ummaya when the midday sun was hot and thrown on his back out in the valley of Mecca. A great stone was placed on his breast, and he was told, 'Remain thus until you expire, or until you renounce Muhammad and worship al Lat and al Uzza.' But during all this pain he merely repeated, 'One God! One!' Abu Bakr chancing to pass by on a day when Bilal was suffering thus, said to his torturer, Ummaya, 'Do you not fear Allah?' but he replied, 'You have corrupted the slave! You can pull him out from under his burden!' Abu Bakr said, 'I shall do so; I have a black boy, smarter and stronger in your faith than this; I shall give him to you in exchange.'
Accordingly Abu Bakr gave Ummaya his slave and took Bilal, whom he presented with his freedom, as he did six other slaves who professed Islam. The idolaters so tormented many companions of the apostle of Allah that their apostasy from Islam was excusable. 'I'hey used to beat a man and to make him suffer hunger and thirst until he was unable to sit upright, such was his agony, and he would finally succumb to temptation and agree to all they asked of him. They would say to him, 'Al Lat and al Uzza are your gods as well as Allah', and he would agree. They went so far that, when even a dung beetle happened to crawl by, they exclaimed, 'This is your god!' and he would agree in order to be rid of them and of his pain. When the apostle of Allah saw the distress which his companions suffered, while he himself enjoyed comparative immunity under the protection of Allah and of his uncle Abu Talib, and that he was unable to save them, he said, 'If you were to go to the country of the Abyssinians, you would do well; there is a king there under whom no one is persecuted; it is a country of truth where you can remain until Allah grants you deliverance from the miseries of the present.'
So the companions of the apostle of Allah emigrated for fear of temptation, flying for refuge, and those who emigrated were eighty three in number. Among them was Ubaydullah, one of the 'four inquirers'. These and similar events had occurred over a period of several years, the Quraysh becoming progressively more bitter about Muhammad.
The apostle himself had too much moral protection from such elders as Abu Talib to suffer more than unpleasantness at their hands: there was little physical violence, and his attackers confined themselves mainly to slander and sneers. The Quraysh now sent a deputation to the Negus of Abyssinia asking for the return of the fugitives ('the first emigrants'), but the Negus chose to shelter them. Meanwhile, at Mecca, the faith continued to spread.
Rukana, the strongest of the Quraysh in physical power, happened one day to be with Muhammad in one of the passes, and the latter addressed him thus, 'Will you not fear Allah, and accept the revelation which I offer you?' He replied, 'If I knew what you say to be true, I would follow you!' The apostle of Allah asked, 'Will you know my statements to be true if I prostrate you to the ground?.' Rukana said, 'Yes', and the apostle continued, 'Then rise that I may throw you down.'
Accordingly Rukana rose to the attack, but as soon as the apostle of Allah assailed him, he fell to the ground helpless. After a while, he said, 'Once more, o Muhammad' But he was knocked down And the apostle of Allah said, 'I shall show you something wonderful still, if you will promise to fear Allah and to follow my religion. I shall call out to this tree here and it will come to me.' Accordingly he called it, and it approached till it stood fast before the apostle of Allah; then he said to the tree, “Return to thy place!” and it returned to its place. While the apostle of Allah was at Mecca twenty or so Christians arrived to visit him from Abyssinia, having heard of his fame.
They found him in the mosque, and sat down with him and conversed and asked questions. After they had asked their questions, and been answered, the apostle of Allah invited them to become believers in Allah the most high and glorious, and recited to them the Koran. As they listened, tears flowed from eyes and they believed in him and in his truth.
One day a slave girl saw Abu Jahl insult the apostle who made no reply; when, shortly afterwards, Hamza a great hunter, who was also uncle and foster brother of Muhammad returned from chase with his bow hanging from his shoulder, she told him of the event. Hamza was filled with great wrath because Allah had predestined him for great favours and hastened away to punish Abu Jahl. Approaching him, he struck him a fearful blow saying, 'Dare you insult him, when I am of his religion and say what he says? Return my blow if you are able ! Several witnesses rose to aid Abu Jahl, but he exclaimed, 'Let Hamza alone for I have insulted his nephew shamefully.' Hamza then completed his profession of Islam, begun in the haste of passion, by following the advice of the apostle in all the ordinances, and after this the Quraysh realized that Muhammad had even stronger protection and so ceased their worst incitement. Another valuable convert at this time was Umar, hitherto a vociferous enemy of the apostle.
When the deputation of Quraysh returned disappointed from Abyssinia, the tribe decided to counteract Muhammad's influence by forming a league against him and his followers. They applied economic and social sanctions, forbade trade with him, and banned the Believers from marrying Quraysh women. This boycott had some success and the apostle lived almost in a state of siege for close on three years, except during the period of pilgrimage. All he could do was consolidate the faith of those who were with him. At last, however, the ban was lifted through the influence of several Quraysh who, though not Believers, sympathized with their plight. The apostle was now fifty years of age. The apostle, by the orders of Allah, continued patiently, confidently, and lovingly to preach to his people, despite their accusations of falsehood, their insults, and their mockeries. The worst mockers were five in number, and after these men had persisted in their wickedness for some time, and had heaped their mockeries upon the apostle of Allah, the following verse was revealed: 'We shall suffice thee against the mockers who worship another god with Allah; they will know.'
Gabriel came to the apostle of Allah whilst these five were circumambulating the Kaba, and the apostle of Allah rose and stood by the side of Gabriel. When the first mocker passed by Gabriel threw a green leaf into his face, and he became blind. Then another passed to whose abdomen he pointed, and the man was attacked by dropsy, of which he died. When the third approached he pointed to the scar of a wound on the mocker's heel which had been inflicted years ago, and this wound opened again and killed him. When the fourth passed by he pointed to the sole of his foot, and afterwards a thorn penetrated it and the. man died. When the fifth mocker passed by he pointed to his head and it began to ferment with poison and he died. Khadija, the wife of the apostle, and Abu Talib, his uncle and protector died in the same year, and after that calamities followed in losing his wife the apostle of Allah lost his faithful supporter in Islam, and in losing his uncle he lost his defender against the people. This happened three years before the emigration to Medina. After the death of Abu Talib the Quraysh insults upon the apostle of Allah which they would not attempted during his life, and one of the fools among the Quraysh even went so far as to strew dust on his head. The apostle went with the dust on his head to his own house, and one of his daughters washed it off and wept; but the apostle of Allah said, “Do not weep daughter Allah will protect thy father.' And he added, 'The Quraysh would do nothing disagreeable to me until Abu Talib died.' Once, when Muhammad had asked the nobles 'Will you say is “There is no god but Allah?" and abandon whatever you worship besides Him?' Abu Talib had said, 'Nephew! In my opinion you have asked them to do something extraordinary!' When Abu Talib uttered these words the apostle of Allah conceived hope for him and exclaimed, ' Then, uncle! Pronounce that phrase, and it will procure you redemption on the day of resurrection' When he perceived Muhammad's anxiety to convert him Abu Talib said, 'O son of my brother, if I feared not such curses as will fall upon you and the sons of your father after I am dead, and that the Quraysh would suppose I had submitted from fear of death, I would pronounce it just to please you”.
When Abu Talib was on his deathbed, al Abbas saw him move his lips and, having bent towards him, said to Muhammad, By Allah! My brother has uttered the phrase which you desired him to speak.' But the apostle of Allah replied, 'I did not hear it.' And Abu Talib died. After the death of Abu Talib, when the apostle began to meet with such persecution from the Quraysh as he never had before, out to al Taif [the nearest city of importance] in search of aid and protection from the Thaqif, in the hope that they would accept the revelation he brought from Allah. He went out to them quite alone. He sat down with the three brothers who were the princes of the Thaqif and invited them to Allah, and told them he had come to ask their aid in the propagation of Islam, and their support against those of his people who opposed him. But one of the men said he would tear up the cloth which covered the Kaba if Allah had sent him; and the second man said, 'Could Allah find no better to send except you?' and the third man complained, 'I shall never speak to you! For, if you are an apostle of Allah, your dignity is too great for me to contradict you; and if you are lying, there is no necessity for me to speak to you.' So the apostle of Allah left them, in despair of receiving any aid from the Thaqif.
He said to them, 'Since you have done what you have done, at least keep my request secret', for he was unwilling that his people should hear of the matter lest they be further incensed against him. The three princes did not keep silent, however, but encouraged their slaves to curse him and to shout after him, so that he was compelled to take refuge in an orchard belonging to Utba and Shayba, both of whom were ¬there at the time.
The rabble of Thaqif withdrew and the apostle of Allah sat down in the shade of a vine while Utba and Shayba looked on. When he felt himself safe the apostle cried, 'O Allah! To thee I complain of my weakness, lack of resource, and helplessness before men. O most merciful Allah! Thou art the Lord of the weak! Thou art my Lord! If Thy wrath is not upon me, I care not for persecution; I fly for refuge to the light of Thy countenance, which illuminates darkness and regulates this world and the next. There is neither might nor power except with Thee!
Utba and Shayba were moved with compassion for the apostle and told their Christian slave, Addas, to pluck a bunch of grapes, place it in a dish, and take it to him. Addas placed the dish before the apostle of Allah, telling him to eat, and the apostle put his hand into the dish, said, 'In the name of Allah!” and began to eat. Addas gazed at him and said, 'These are words uncommon to the people of this country', and the apostle of Allah asked him from which country he came and what was his religion; Addas replied, 'I am a Christian from Nineveh.' The apostle of Allah said, From the town of the pious Jonah? He is my brother; he is a prophet and I am a prophet! and Addas bowed down and kissed the head, the hands, and the feet of the apostle. Addas returned to the brothers they said, 'Woe betide you! Why did you kiss the head of that man, and his hands, and his feet? He replied, 'O my masters! There is no finer man on earth than he! He has told me what none but a prophet can know', but they said, 'Let him not turn you away from your religion for it is better than his.'
Then the apostle of Allah returned to Mecca, but his people more violent in
their resistance and opposition, save only a few poor people who believed in him.
He was in the habit of presenting himself at the time of seasonal fairs to the
Arab tribes, in the following manner. He would stand before the Arab encampments
and say, 'I am an apostle from Allah to you and command you to adore
Allah and not to bestow this adoration on any other; to renounce the worship of
idols; to believe me, His apostle, and to defend me that I may explain to you
the revelation with which Allah has sent me.' But sometimes there stood behind
him a shrewd looking, well dressed man, wearing a cloak, and with a lock of hair
on each cheek, who addressed the people as soon as the apostle of Allah had ended
his discourse. “This man” he would say, “invites you to cast
off al Lat and al-Uzza, your allies among the djinns, in favor of his own invention
and falsehood! Neither obey nor hear him!” This man was Abu
Lahab, an uncle of the prophet. For some time the apostle had little success
with the tribes, although in the case of the Banu Amir one man among them said,
“By Allah! If I could take this man away from the Quraysh and
have him on my side I could eat up all the Arabs with him!” He went on 'If
we pay homage to your religion, and Allah aids you to victory, what
then?' and Muhammad replied, 'The dominion is Allah's! He placeth it where He
willeth.' And the man exclaimed, 'If you expect us to make ourselves
targets for the Arabs but offer us no certainty of dominion in the case of victory,
we have no need of your religion!' So they rejected him.